Sunday, September 19, 2010

Magnolia Bakery

Why oh why is there such a cupcake craze?  Why not cookies (my personal favorite)?  Why not brownies?  Why not donuts?  I guess I'm not much of a cake person surprisingly.  I prefer a good pie or tart.  In any case, when it comes to cupcakes, I am a follower and I agree that Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake is the best.  Granted, I have not tried many other cupcake places, but I generally use it as my baseline for comparison. 

Once upon a time, Magnolia held a special place in my heart-stomach.  This was back in the day, when my heart-stomach was young and naive.  It was also during a time when a cupcake was just a cupcake.  Fast forward like 8 years and my heart-stomach has matured into a discerning individual, unwelcoming to the dull and flavorless.  Magnolia is now in LA, but is no match for the hipster cupcake scene here.

Vanilla Cupcake vanilla frosting
Eight years ago, I remember standing outside the bakery in the blistery cold of a NYC winter.  It was like being embraced by a warm blanket of sweet sugary smells when the line finally moved forward and I could be inside.  Then, it was a victorious moment when I finally got my mittens on those prized cupcakes.  Now, it is an unextraordinary event.

Don't get me wrong.  The cupcake is good.  Just like how I remember.  The cake is moist and buttery.  The frosting overwhelming sweet and to grainy for my tastes.  But times have changed.  You can't taste like your grandma's cupcakes and  make it in LA.  The competition is stiff.  It's a superficial world, here in LA.  Gimmicks and trends permeate throughout every facet of life.  I'm not saying Sprinkles doesn't have great substance to support its wild popularity.  But the marketing, branding, flavor choices and names are all a part of its success too.  Magnolia's is like the homely unmarried older sister thinking she can just move to LA, sans makeover, and score some hot dates. 

Chocolate Devil's Food Cupcake chocolate frosting
"No bueno!" says the BO.  It was dry and tasteless.  The frosting had an artifical chocolateness to it.

From what I gather, Magnolia has failed to win the hearts of Angelenos.  I think they may be putting more effort into the various other baked goodies they offer.  The banana pudding is supposed to be fantastic.  I had a sampling and it was good, but I'm no fan of bananas in dessert or pudding.  They also had some coconut chocolate bar that looked delicious.  If I ever come here again, which I probably won't, I'll be sure to try that one.

Magnolia Bakery
8389 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048

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Tuan at September 19, 2010 at 8:55 PM said...

Grief. What a damning review. I'd have to agree that Magnolia's isn't anything special, and that your metaphor really captures the ho-humness of it all. It's like something that I could probably make at home if I really wanted to. Sprinkles, on the other hand, seems more special in some way. Maybe it's the fancy box, or the little decorative spot. Who knows. But the flavors don't do it any justice either, especially when there are really cool specialty flavors running around out there.

I just tried a place, frosted cupcakery, which is pretty decent. Give it a go--you may call yourself a convert. There's an outpost in the LBC, for if you ever decide to make a trek out here.

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